Beware of Spiritual Riptides

By Jim Tune

Paul (not his real name) had seen pastors attacked. He pledged he would always do what he could to protect his pastor.

A few years later, that pastor agreed with a decision to close a program that Paul’s wife led. Paul stepped down from leadership and stewed against the pastor. He began to entertain gossip and went through a spiritually dry period. Years later, he rejoined leadership and was part of the decision to end the pastor’s tenure. He still nurses a grudge today.

Paul had good intentions but found himself swept away. He ended up feeling hurt and was unable to help his wife process her feelings. Where did things go wrong?

sept28_tune_jnWe all have good intentions, but our intentions often get overpowered as we get swept away by powerful forces. It reminds me of the signs at beaches that warn about riptides. A riptide can easily pull a swimmer out to sea, against his or her will.

I want to post a sign in our homes and churches: “Beware of Spiritual Riptides.” Except, of course, there are positive spiritual riptides too. This is where my analogy breaks down. I’ve never seen a sign on a beach warning of positive riptides!

Judy and George weren’t getting along. They’d been married for eight years and fighting for the last two. They had made some progress thanks to counseling sessions, but still continued to struggle.

One morning, out of the blue, George kissed Judy. The kiss surprised Judy and made her happy. This prompted her to do something she hadn’t done in a while: she made a pot of coffee. George smelled the coffee and came down for a cup. They spent some time together and had a pleasant conversation. Judy’s coworkers even noticed that she seemed happier. After work, Judy and George both felt more relaxed and less argumentative. They found themselves caught in positive currents that began to lead them to a healthier place.

I’m learning how important it is to pay attention to riptides. It’s critical that we avoid getting caught in negative currents. The Bible repeatedly warns us against bitter and unforgiving attitudes. God knows that when we give into even a little bit of resentment, we can be swept away spiritually. Let’s commit to taking this danger seriously.

When we find ourselves caught in a dangerous current, we must realize we probably won’t escape on our own power. The good news? God has promised to help. We can also reach out to others and ask them for help.

Instead of getting swept away by dangerous currents, let’s look for positive ones. Simple things like gratitude and encouragement can lead us to very good places.

I’ve seen too many people like Paul. Beware of spiritual riptides. Instead, let’s catch currents that lead to blessing and health.

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